All students benefit from clear reference points to solidify the conceptual development in becoming ethical decision makers. Values in Action has created a time tested model that has reaped significant memory retention.
In making our final decision my staff and I felt that if the value we had chosen could not be tied with behavior and to a specific body part, that we needed to question the value we had chosen as being more important than another value. We chose 7 values and referenced them to a specific body part that contributed the most dramatic results toward how kids behaved.
These 7 Virtues are the most highly regarded values that contribute toward ethical decision making and ethical decision makers.
Positive Mental Attitude-Mind -The mind is where our dominant thoughts are rehearsed. Our mental rehearsals contribute significantly to our character development. Since so much of the world focuses on worst possible outcomes and results we set out to teach kids to work for the best possible results. Problems are merely questions to be solved and to work through not go around.
Respect- Eyes & Ears-These body parts are where so much of respectful listening takes place. We wanted kids to know the importance of looking at each other and actively listening to each other. Respect is demonstrated consideration and holding others in high regard. It happens by disciplining the eyes and ears to focus on others ideas.
Integrity- Mouth– All our words and agreements mean something. We’ve trained kids to learn the importance of counting on each others words. While integrity starts with truth about what we believe about ourselves and tell ourselves it is revealed through our agreements and commitments to others. We help children realize the power of keeping agreements. They learn people with Integrity will not only stand out today but also in the world of tomorrow.
Compassion-Heart– We chose the heart because of the need for compassion in our school and community . In the Values in Action! Curriculum we teach kids about the importance of having a heart for others. We stress the “others” curriculum by various kinds of “Heart Projects” Service clubs, service hours, walk for mankind, and love of neighbors. Kids become aware the major decisions of life come from the heart. They learn that ethics do not equal rules and that a large part of ethics depends on what our heart tells us.
Cooperation- Hands– In order to stay clean hands have to wash one another. The spirit of cooperation begins within ourselves with our hands needing to cooperate with each other, otherwise they would never get clean. We teach kids there are things we do together that we cannot accomplish by ourselves. We teach them that cooperation focuses on “we” not just me..
Perseverance- Stomach or Gut– The Stomach was chosen as the place in the body that represents fortitude. You have to have guts to keep forging ahead and pressing on. The higher we set our goals the more we need to persevere. We teach children the stomach keeps tract. When we are persistent enough to complete our work and the challenges that we encounter our stomach feels good. When we make excuses and fall short of our goals our stomach feels pain and discomfort.
Initiative-Feet -The highest form of responsibility is initiative. It’s taking the “first step” to help someone while everyone else is standing around and watching. We teach children that success happens when we take the steps to make it happen. Our goal is to develop non-prompted lifestyles See what needs to be done and be a person to take the steps without anyone telling or prompting you!
Before kids graduate from school they are required to draw a picture of themselves and label the seven body parts with the seven virtues. They are also required to write an essay of why it’s important to exhibit value in their lives.
© Gene Bedley 1993
Values in Action! includes numerous activities and strategies to establish these seven Core Ethical Virtues. The Coordinators guide includes 425 pages designed and implemented over a 20 year period. It is the most comprehensive Ethics guide available to schools.